Cover Story: OSK Property to focus on affordable ‘essential homes’

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on June 15, 2020 - June 21, 2020.

Artist’s impression of the 22-acre Wetland Park in Iringan Bayu, Seremban (Photo by OSK Properties)

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With most potential buyers remaining housebound during the various iterations of the Movement Control Orders (MCOs), industry players have been adapting and restrategising. While many restrictions have been lifted under the Recovery MCO that will be in place until Aug 31, life will not go back to normal as yet. OSK Property Holdings Bhd has restrategised to reach its audience and plans to carry on with selected launches.

The group says it will hold fewer launches this year. It is looking at a combined gross development value (GDV) of RM311.9 million and is focusing on the townships of Iringan Bayu in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, and Yarra Park in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

“We will continue to pursue land banking opportunities for our long-term growth. As at end-2019, we had 1,464 acres of developable land with an estimated GDV of RM10.5 billion in Malaysia, and [a development with] a GDV of RM2.3 billion in Melbourne, Australia,” OSK Property CEO Ong Ghee Bin tells City & Country in an email interview.

“OSK Property will be adapting to the new normal in its product offerings moving forward. We will focus on building affordably priced ‘essential homes’ in strategic locations,” he says.

“Essential homes are in developments that focus on fundamental requirements with selected key facilities and a balance of greenery and sustainable features. We will be incorporating this product into our future launches in Melawati in Selangor, Sentul in Kuala Lumpur and Rubika in Butterworth,” he notes.

“With the Covid-19 outbreak, we have noticed a drastic shift in consumer behaviour, with most people wary of making significant financial decisions such as buying a property.

“However, amid this uncertainty, there are still opportunities in the property market and it is crucial for us as a developer to step forward and be more creative and innovative in our approach,” Ong says.

The group sees digitalisation as the way forward. “The way to reach out to the community is through virtual tours and multiple online initiatives. Hence, we have intensified our digital engagements across all platforms by rolling out packages that will help the public own a home even during this challenging time,” he says.

“OSK Property retains a healthy balance sheet as a result of our strategic approach whereby we have always focused on clearing stock. We are one of the developers with the lowest unsold stocks in the market. This strategy has allowed us to capitalise on any opportunities that will arise in the current weak market conditions.

“We are also thankful that all our construction sites as well as offices have resumed operations. Nevertheless, we will operate according to the strict guidelines in the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the government as well as state regulations,” he continues.

“While we emphasise selling our ongoing projects this year, we will continue to develop innovative products that meet the needs of prospective buyers. We will also be very cautious in terms of our launches and do our best to drive costs down to stay competitive as well as help Malaysians own a home despite the current economic conditions.”

 

Bandar Bukit Puchong parcel and ongoing launches

Ong highlights the group’s latest land acquisition. “Plans are underway at our recently purchased site in Bandar Bukit Puchong. We are looking at a total of four phases for the 27.77-acre masterplan, which will be revealed in due time,” he says.

“Puchong is a thriving township and popular residential location, even more so with the newly completed MRT stations within the township. We look forward to being part of the township and creating a robust and lively community in Bandar Bukit Puchong.”

Ong touches on other launches scheduled in 2020. “We will be unveiling two phases in Iringan Bayu, Seremban, in view of the encouraging take-up rates in previous phases [which have seen rates of 97% to 100%]. We are also excited about launching the 22-acre Wetland Park, which will be open to the public this year,” he says.

The 770-acre Iringan Bayu has a total GDV of RM3.6 billion and will comprise 1,391 freehold single- and double-storey houses. Due to be completed in January 2022, the units will have built-ups of 20ft x 65ft to 20ft x 70ft with prices ranging from RM354,000 to RM479,000.

“With the aim of making Iringan Bayu a Bandar Selamat, we have adopted a crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) approach. It is thoughtfully designed to create a traffic-free environment with designated pathways for cars and bicycles as well as walkways,” says Ong.

At the core of the township is Wetland Park, one of the largest in Seremban. It is an ideal spot for family activities with numerous facilities including an outdoor gym, yoga and fitness park, multipurpose court and kids’ play zone.

“We are also pleased to share that we will continue to expand Yarra Park in Sungai Petani with the launch of two new phases, including semidees and single-storey terraced homes — Westfield and Northfield respectively.”

The 450-acre project has a total GDV of RM356 million and will feature 859 homes — single- and double-storey semi-detached units as well as single- and double-storey bungalows. Built-ups range from 1,252 and 2,671 sq ft and prices range from RM240,000 to RM555,000.

“Many local business owners and professionals, as well as those from the northern states, especially Penang, are looking for quality residential homes in Sungai Petani, which has an array of amenities. Therefore, given the affordable entry prices and conveniences our township offers, it has garnered strong interest from many young professionals as well as small and medium-sized families,” says Ong.

According to Ong, other ongoing launches include You City III in Cheras and Ryan & Miho in Petaling Jaya. Launched on May 12 last year, You City III will be built on a 5.5-acre freehold parcel in Cheras 9th Mile and is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The project, which has a GDV of RM491 million, comprises 800 serviced apartments in two 39-storey towers. Built-ups range from 678 to 1,776 sq ft and come in layouts of 2, 3, 4, 4+1 and 5+1 bedrooms. Prices range from RM350,000 (after early-bird discount and bumiputera discount) to RM1.11 million.

You City III forms part of the 20-acre, RM1.2 billion You City township, which will have a population of 5,000 once completed. The township’s previous launches, You Residences and You Vista, are fully sold. You City III is the third and final phase and has a take-up rate of 70%.

Also launched last year was You City Retail, which will have about 200,000 sq ft of gross floor area (GFA) and 140,000 sq ft of net lettable area (NLA). “We plan to own and operate this mall through Atria Management Team, which is also the operator of our other mall, Atria Shopping Gallery in Petaling Jaya,” says Ong.

Meanwhile, the 5.94-acre Ryan & Miho comprises 1,084 leasehold serviced apartments and has a GDV of RM756 million. First launched in 2017, the project is currently 85% taken up. Built-ups range from 678 to 990 sq ft, and the units come with layouts of 2, 3 and 3+1 bedrooms. Prices range from RM550,000 to RM864,000.

“These projects will appeal to young professionals and working people in the surrounding area who wish to stay near public transport. Given the low entry prices and prime location, these projects have garnered high take-up rates and strong interest from many first-time homebuyers, small families and investors as well as second-generation residents who still wish to live in PJ and Cheras,” says Ong.

 

Taking advantage of low interest rates

OSK Property will continue to focus on making homes affordable for first-time homebuyers, says Ong. “We will do this by introducing the right marketing packages that include the best pricing strategy.

“To enhance the homebuyer’s living experience and the property’s value, we will continue to incorporate important elements such as green living, sustainable features and accessibility to public transport and surrounding amenities.

“Homebuyers can still purchase their dream home by taking advantage of the low interest rates offered by the local banks. In line with that, we have also rolled out more special offers in conjunction with our 55th anniversary this year.”

Ong is aware of the need to be nimble in these difficult times. “Looking at the shift in [demand in the property market], we will continue to re-examine and tailor our product offerings to be relevant in the current market. Our focus on cost control over the last few years has enabled us to develop products that are cost-effective and competitively priced and do well in the current slow market,” he says.

“The Covid-19 crisis has impacted buying sentiment across all businesses. The property market will continue to be challenging this year, owing to the poor sentiment and end-financing challenges faced by property buyers.

“Nevertheless, the uncertainty in the economy amid the battle against Covid-19 is a test of resilience and preparedness for many, including us. We will be prudent even as we continue to strengthen our business recovery measures moving forward,” he notes.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and be extra [careful] with our future launches and come up with the right product in the right location and at the right price.”